The title “Thirsty for Justice” serves as a powerful tagline. The subtitle “The struggle for the human right to water” lays the issue on the line. This telling documentary visits rural and urban areas. It visits Native American places, where water is sacred to them and where they wonder why it isn’t sacred to everybody, for everybody.
This substantive report keys us in to the millions of Americans – yes, they are typically poor and people of color – who struggle to have enough accessible, affordable, and safe water. We’re talking water here, as in try living a day without it.
When the California legislature was debating AB685, “The Human Right to Water” bill, there were comments like “the right to water means someone else is required to give it” and “what about ranchers’ rights.” This film follows the grass roots efforts right up to the final vote needed to pass AB685.
“Thirsty for Justice” begins with a central California school that has turned off its public water supply because it is contaminated. A school must bring in bottled water so its kids have clean water to drink. From sprawling agricultural lands of California, fertilizers and pesticides find their way into the water supply. From concentrated industrial areas and waste dumps, all kinds of toxins find their way into the water supply.
Poor families pay disproportionate amounts of their income for water. They also pay disproportionately in health problems from bad water. Even putting aside the fact that it takes years to do something for communities with contaminated water, cleaning up water issues one community at a time is expensive for taxpayers.
Perhaps being “smart” about water means don’t worry about every human being who is adversely affected by bad quality or availability. Perhaps, but fundamentally that doesn’t seem human right.